There’s that moment of rawness when you send a link to your family knowing that they will discover a sex scene which includes their precious first-born daughter. The fear in knowing that on the other site of the click there is a portrayal of the Girl Scout’s first O. Even a kiss from Dean’s List Alex Spieth is a little gross to share. Sorry, Mom and Dad, I just thought it would be interesting! I’m trying to be real! Okay, okay you caught me: I JUST WANT TO GET HIRED, and I HEARD SEX SELLS.
Before I was a writer, I was an actor, and acting sex scenes is easier to play off. I could feign ignorance because the words weren’t my own. Losing my top in the show is “just part of the story I’m telling…and I can’t apologize for that.” Maybe because in my formative years I was cast as the Ms. Hannigan/ Aunt Eller/ the Nurse/Mrs. Malaprop (getting deep cut enough for y’all?) track, I thirst to bring sexy back. Now I’m the writer, and if people say they aren’t writing from direct experience they are either a liar or a genius (and there are way more liars in the world than genii). The world can’t be disguised as someone else’s—it’s all me.
Showing sensitive material is a huge “OMG” I have to swallow every time I’m sending the last draft file to my family. Honestly, it’s easier because I’ve been a blogger for so long. Having a blog was way scarier to reveal to M and D because there is no real “slant” to the stories. Having a blog had long since taught me that if you value someone’s trust you should writing VERY sparingly about them, cause (lets count ‘em) 4 dudes told me to TEAR THAT BLOG POST DOWN, MR. GORBACHEV. I obviously did it, but after the dudes couldn’t really look at me without seeing a Viper with my hairstyle. I’m currently single, but it’s not like I’m a bad person!??!?! I’m just EXPRESSING MY TRUTH.
So, here are some steps to creating work that you think is RELEVANT (read: dark/scary/depressed/sexy/sex-depraved) and share it with those who’s opinion of you actually does matter in the long run:
1). If the sensitive material doesn’t directly concern a person you care about: Totally cool to share your script with family/close friends at any point. HOWEVER, if there is material that you deem as “eew worthy”, I would advocate sharing a close to or final version of something. A final draft of the script, a final cut, or the actual finished copy, so that your argument is made in the strongest way and there’s less chance to Turn-This-Car-Around-Young-Lady!
Example: In Season 2, I have sex with a dude in the first episode, and the only thing I send my family was when the episode came out. Same for Episode 2 where I had sex again. Same with Episode 3 where I had sex again. Same with Episode 5 where I had sex again.
2). If the sensitive material does directly concern a person who you care about: ALWAYS run it by them before filming the thing. It’s harder and harder to cut integral moments the more real they become (aka “once you film it, it’s permanent” said every celebrity who has released a sex tape to up their fame), and if you feel dicey about sharing something, you should 100% ask before putting the incident in the trailer.
Example: In Season 1, I directly used a comic story from a friend’s break up where he got into a car that wasn’t actually his uber. I asked more on the basis of “intellectual property” of the GREAT story. He didn’t care, and sent me on wit the blessing to write the episode.
Example 2: Asked a dude if I could use the line, “You’re funnier, She’s more book smart” about his current gf and his former gf. Dude didn’t like it, but eventually said it was cool. No one ended up caring very much.
3). If the sensitive material does directly concern a person you DON’T care about: write the shit and change the names/details and hope for the best. It’s your life, and try to not get sued out there, bro.
Example: Wrote a vaguely autobiographical episode about a sexual encounter and the dude ended up noticing. He applauded me on the portrayal and acting and was totally chill (moral of the story being if you don’t care then other people likely don’t either).
Example 2: Had a girl blog for me and her ex threatened to sue if she didn’t take it down. I took that shit down in .5 seconds cause like..we jut trying to hustle out here and it’s way harder to hustle from behind bars, bruh.
Example 3: Went on a date w/ a dude who told me he might use the date in his One Man Show about Not Dating White Women, and I thought, Fair’s Fair, Mofo. Def wouldn’t sue the dude and probably would buy tix to the show when it hits The Great White Way to see where I am.
4). If the sensitive material doesn’t directly concern a person you DON’T care about: THEN Y’ALL THAT’S WHAT THEY CALL FICTION. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK, CAUSE YOU ARE A REAL WRITER.
Example: Season 1, Episode 5 concerns a guy revealing that he slapped his gf in college. The lead in the episode had a lot of thoughts because the material was sensitive, even though it had nothing to do with him personally. When material is engaging, people will treat it personally whether it is or isn’t which honestly…is the best.
NOTE: NUMBER 4 IS THE ONE YOU SHOULD STRIVE FOR.
I have a message of hope: I’m in the process of re-writing the final season and this one’s the most made-up of them all. As you get better at writing you get better at going further from yourself and obfuscating the truth until it looks like something you didn’t directly experience first hand. Hopefully your friends and family believe that too, so you can cut the awkwardness and go right to DVD, Baby.